Study: App-based visits seem viable for post-surgical follow-ups

Many women who have undergone breast reconstruction surgery following a mastectomy can receive postoperative follow-up via telemedicine, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery.  At the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, 65 post-operative women were randomly assigned either to follow-up visits with their doctor or to follow-up via a QoC Health mobile app, which uses patient-provided photos and a questionnaire to monitor recovery.  Using the app resulted in fewer in-clinic visits and made for a more engaged and content patient, the study found.  Patients who used the mobile app attended 0.40 times fewer in-person visits for follow-up care, with no negative impact on complication rates.  They also sent more emails to their healthcare professionals during the first 30 days after surgery than patients in the in-person follow-up group.  In addition, the mobile app group was more likely to agree that their type of follow-up care was convenient.  Most follow-up visits for breast reconstruction surgery are “perfunctory,” as the rate of complications with this procedure is low, the researchers noted; but reducing travel can result in a more comfortable recovery.  In addition, the app’s encouragement for patients to email their doctors resulted in more communication overall.  “Improving patient convenience without compromising satisfaction is another critical finding as we look for ways to build a patient-centric healthcare system that supports quicker recovery and resumption of normal daily living,” the researchers wrote.

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